Public school students will have more options to express their religious beliefs under legislation approved by the state Senate today. Opponents worried kids will face discrimination or feel like they have to go along to get along, but the Senate President says schools have gone too far stifling religious discussion.
Supporters of more religious freedom didn’t point out specific instances where it had been denied. They spoke in broad generalities. Sen. Doug Broxson (R-Pensacola) told colleagues it was long overdue.
“This bill sends a message to our sixty-seven counties that you can take some liberties in showing religious expression” says Broxson.
The Debate took place under the state motto: In God we trust. Opponent Audrey Gibson had a warning.
“That really will create, I believe, more misunderstanding then understanding” said Gibson.
“Crime, teenage pregnancies exponentially went higher immediately after we took god out of our schools” the pastor told us.
Opponents also warned of students being bullied for their beliefs. That’s what happened to high school senior Maryann Herrera…at a Catholic high school, when she disagreed with the majority in her class.
“I was the only one who had a different view on stuff and that kinda made me feel stumbled upon, you know, everyone was very expressive. and so was I in a way, but they weren’t as respectful” said the high schooler who transferred to public school for more diversity.
The bill requires schools to created a limited public forum where students can speak their mind, if they want.
“I would never tolerate or should the law tolerate someone being discriminated against, but lets not go to the other extreme where actually we’re unfairly penalizing a student” said Joe Negron after the session.
The House version cleared its final committee on Thursday setting it up for a final vote as early as next week.
The legislation will also allow students to wear religious clothing or jewelry, and form clubs, whenever students are also allowed to wear non secular messages, jewelry, or hold meetings.